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Identity theft hits kids with fraudulent consumer debt, mortgages

It's hard enough for many Floridians without the added stress of identity theft. Unfortunately, this type of crime is growing alarmingly fast, and it's negatively affecting people's credit all over the country. This can have serious consequences, from having credit card applications denied to being unable to get a car or mortgage loan. Victims of identity theft often have their credit ruined through no fault of their own, and in many cases they have no idea it's happened to them.

Even children can become victims of identity theft. Children are victimized 35 times more than adults because their credit history is clean, and it's easy for thieves to gain access to their Social Security Numbers and other personal information through social media, tax forms, and other avenues.

Usually children don't even realize they're victims of identity theft until they grow up and apply for credit or employment, only to find that someone else has racked up massive amounts of credit card debt, mortgages, auto loans, and more in their names. Even crimes committed under false identities can be associated with a child's information.

Parents can take safeguards to protect their children from becoming victims, such as keeping their Social Security cards in a safe place and educating their children about the dangers of sharing too much information online. Regularly ordering a free credit report, even for kids, is vital in making sure nothing is amiss.

If it's discovered that a child has become an identity theft victim, it's possible to reverse the damage and protect a child's credit; however, in many cases fraudulent charges and lines of credit are massive, and untangling the mess can be complicated. It can be helpful to speak to an attorney in order to stop the identity abuse and start fixing the damage.

Source: The Jackson Sun, "Stolen futures: Child identity theft is on the rise," Nichole Manna, April 14, 2013

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